GOLOCAL

After being inundated with orders, working from 5.30am to 9pm, and experiencing her busiest week since opening three years ago, Waikanae florist Heather Sleet is temporarily shutting shop after flower prices skyrocketed due to knock-on effects of the lockdown.

Re-opening in level 3 with contactless delivery, Sleet from Posybloom Boutique, found prices were surprisingly normal for the first week but with slightly less variety available.

The drop in variety and quantity of flowers was due to transportation issues and because many growers were not able to tend to their crops during lockdown.

Then Mother's Day hit.

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With limited options under level 3 restrictions, flowers became the go-to option for Mother's Day and Sleet found herself run off her feet with orders but hardly able to break even.

"For all my stress, anxiety and exhaustion, we were lucky to break even when it came down to my flower bill.

Flowers from Posybloom Boutique.
Flowers from Posybloom Boutique.

"This wasn't just me though. Every single florist in New Zealand experienced the same week, the same financial hurt and the same very hurt hands from making an awful lot of bouquets."

Roses which Sleet bought for $9 a bunch in the first week of level 3 were now going for $45 a bunch at auction a day after Mother's Day, gerberas which were no more than $5 a bunch were going for $20.

This meant a big mark-up for Sleet.

"I had to somehow justify selling a $75 bouquet with barely a handful of flowers in it, or take the hit just to maintain my reputation of offering beautiful lush bouquets."

So Sleet is shutting up shop for a while.

In the floristry industry prices change frequently depending on the season and based on supply and demand.

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"This is not a price spike passed on from growers or even the auction system, but rather other florists who need a particular product and will bid excessively high just to ensure they are able to acquire the blooms they have promised to a client, or are just worried they are going to miss out.

"We were really hoping prices and supply would settle down this week, at least a little bit but no such luck.

"Growers have been completely wiped out from the crazy busy week we all had leading up to Mother's day.

Sleet and many others were left in a situation where they could no longer afford to buy flowers.

"This is what prompted me to close for a little while.

"I don't feel it is fair to be charging customers extreme prices for tiny bouquets with hardly anything in them.

"I am in the fortunate situation where my studio is based at home, I don't have a retail lease to worry about, so hitting pause for a few weeks to wait out the prices and supply issue for me is the smartest option.

"I'm hoping it's only a couple of weeks but in reality no one really knows how long it's going to take growers to bounce their supplies back to normal levels."

As rough as the last few weeks have been, Sleet has been overwhelmed by support from the Kāpiti community.

"I am so extremely grateful for the level of support coming from our Kāpiti community, all of those orders and hours of work, translated into a deserving mum being spoiled and recognised.

"Supporting local business is really important to me, and I count myself extremely lucky to live in Kāpiti where that community spirit is so vibrant.

"There is something really satisfying about knowing when you buy from a small local business, you are keeping someone's dream job alive, you're helping someone pay for their child to go to dance lessons, you're keeping the community thriving and helping create a diverse range of amazing businesses available for us to all utilise."